AMMAN: For the first time in nearly three years, Jordan has allowed the entry of humanitarian aid for displaced Syrians in the Rukban camp, located near the northeastern border with Syria.
On Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited activists saying they had seen the aid entering Rukban from Jordan.
The camp, according to the UN, is home to an estimated 50,000 Syrians (10,000 families) who remain stranded at the desert facility.
The London-based war monitor also said the activists saw the humanitarian aid delivered to the camp from the Taha crossing at Al-Tanf US military base in southern Syria at the intersection of its borders with Jordan and Iraq.
“The Taha crossing is used as a support hub by the US-led anti-Daesh coalition,” the observatory said.
In April 2020, Jordan stopped the delivery of humanitarian assistance from its territory to Rukban, citing coronavirus-related health concerns.
The government said the camp was inside Syria and its residents were all Syrians, therefore all aid into the desert facility had to come from inside Syria.
In June 2016, Jordan declared the northern and northeastern border areas a closed military zone in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that targeted a military post serving refugees near the border, killing seven security forces and injuring 13 others.
Between June 2016 and April 2020, Jordan approved exceptional UN-administered aid delivery to Rukban before stopping it at the height of the pandemic.
A Jordanian government source, preferring anonymity, neither confirmed nor denied the reports about the delivery of aid to Rukban but only said: “Jordan’s position on this matter is clear.”
“The aid to Rukban is a military issue, anyway,” the source said in remarks to Arab News on Friday.
Due to the lack of humanitarian aid to Rukban, the observatory said its inhabitants had long depended on smugglers to obtain food and medicine.
The observatory said the Syrian army and allied militants imposed a siege on Rukban for 34 days after its residents demanded the entry of food and medicine.
According to the Syria Direct news website, women and children from the camp staged a protest on March 25, calling on the international community and humanitarian organizations to assume responsibility for aid delivery. Syrian government forces cut off smuggling routes that brought basic goods into the camp.
According to the UN, most of the population at Rukban, consisting mainly of women and children, live in an unbearably challenging and insecure environment, suffering from irregular and inadequate access to food, healthcare, and education.
“Due to hostilities to the north of Rukban, the community has been occasionally cut off from the scant commercial traffic bringing in essential commodities. Prices have also fluctuated dramatically resulting in the population resorting to negative coping mechanisms to survive,” the UN said.